My icons / shortcuts disappeared!

Several people have asked me at different times about icons or shortcuts that go missing from their Windows desktop. It has been a problem that I have not been able to resolve because it seems to happen randomly, inconsistently and not to everyone equally.

Now I think I have found the answer.

On Windows 7 computers there is a behind the scenes program that runs system maintenance tasks, in an attempt to keep things tidy and running smoothly. One of the things it monitors is desktop icons (shortcuts). If you happen to have 4 or more “broken” shortcuts on your desktop they get deleted by the System Maintenance program. “Broken” shortcuts are shortcuts that point to something that is not there anymore. Such as a shortcut to a document on the network but the document itself was moved or deleted. I have asked people if the shortcuts that have disappeared are ones that they use regularly, and most have responded yes, it is stuff that gets used at least somewhat frequently.

Here is what I think has happened when you have had items disappear from your desktop. Even though the shortcuts are valid and point to real documents or folders, the System Maintenance task, just by coincidence, runs at a time when the network is disconnected or unavailable. It finds 4 or more shortcuts pointing to stuff on the network, but because the network is not active, it then mistakenly deletes the shortcuts because they appear “broken.”

If you notice that something has gone missing from your Windows 7 desktop, here is what you can try to recover it:

  1. Open a “Computer” window (Explorer NOT Internet) like you use to browse folders.
  2. Open C :\Users\ , Find a folder with your name or login name and open it. (Alternatively if you have the navigation panel displayed on the left side of the window you can skip to step #3.)
  3. Find the folder labeled “Desktop” and right-click on it.
  4. Choose “Restore Previous Versions”, there may be several to pick from. If there are none then you will have to recreate your shortcuts.

Disable this Behavior

To disable the “Broken Shortcut” task, follow these steps:

  1. Click Start, type regedit in the Search programs and files box, and then press ENTER. If you are prompted for an administrator password, type the password. If you are prompted for confirmation, provide confirmation.
  2. Locate and then click the following registry subkey:
  3. On the Edit menu, point to New, and then click DWORD Value.
  4. Type IsBrokenShortcutsTSEnabled, and then press ENTER.
  5. Right-click IsBrokenShortcutsTSEnabled, and then click Modify.
  6. In the Value data box, type 0, and then click OK.
  7. Exit Registry Editor.

Download the file

Download the following file, change the file extension from TXT TO REG and double click the file. This file works on Windows 7.


Last modified:: 2016/03/19 16:03